Stop the press! This book is the first book I’ve read entirely for pleasure in… I really don’t know how long. I think my last entire pleasure book was on holiday in September last year. For someone who considers literature one of her biggest passions, a long time anyway. Even the McEwan book I read recently was mainly for my dissertation (but I obviously like McEwan anyway). I’m sure English bunnies will agree though, you read a book differently when it’s for study, even if you did pick it.
So, The Fault in Our Stars. I loved the story – the pages are fairly sparse, and it was one of those delightful books that made me flick forward to see how long each chapter was, and whether I could get another one in before my eyelids totally closed. I cried, because apparently while films invariably leave me unmoved, books do something to me. Maybe it’s that thing about investment again. Having it all set out on a TV or big screen for you just isn’t the same as investing hours curled up in bed. Too, I thought there were some really beautiful quotes in there – I like Hazel’s William Carlos Williams interpretation, particularly because I thought it took the bloody pretentiousness out of the original. But I won’t try to recreate the ten best sentences in literature.
The main problem I had with the book was that I found some of the dialogue incongruous. I know parts of it are humourous, but some of the speech just wasn’t naturalistic enough for me, and I think that gnarks me more than before because of my creative writing module. I also know that some cheesy quips and musings come with the young adult genre, and even if you are a bit older than said young adult, you just have to go with it.But having watched the trailer, maybe some lines I had my doubts about might work better on the screen: you know it’s going to be cheesy, but it’s still emotional.
I did however, love some of the musings about the role of the author, and as a visit to one of John Green’s FAQ pages about the book reveals, I think a lot of them reflect his own views. Not necessarily the views put forward by Van Houten (in that he believes the author does not know everything and his characters do not extend beyond the existence in the book, very Barthes if you ask me), but often some of the things that Gus says. In fact, Green himself admits here on the topic of ending the book midsentence, ‘I agree with Augustus that there is a contract between reader and writer and that not ending a book violates that contract.’ It is interesting to see a book aimed at such a young audience, and one that has been successful with such an audience too, to muse in such a way. Refreshing though.
Tonight, I’m going to watch The Book Thief. As one of my favourite books, and also a young adult one, I wonder if it will be able to live up to the book. My thought is probably not, as it does have such a fond place in my heart. And I’m a purist – it’s all about the books not the film. I’ll let you know.